Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, has opened up about the toll the war has taken on her family in a rare interview with president Volodymyr Zelensky.
The interview broadcast on Ukraine’s RADA TV on Sunday May 21 is just the second time the couple, who married in 2003 and have two children, have been seen together since Russia’s invasion in February.
Zelenska had been previously been in an undisclosed location for her safety.
“Our family was torn apart, as every other Ukrainian family (due to the war),” Olenska said.
“The war basically took away your husband from you,” the presenter then said.
“Nobody takes my husband away from me, not even the war,” Olenska replied.
She said that due to the war, their family didn’t get to see Zelensky for two and a half months and only spoke on the phone.
“Now we had a few occasions to see each other. And I am also very thankful for this occasion, because [this interview] makes us spend time together,” she said.
“Yes, a date on TV. Thank you!” Zelensky then joked.
Olenska also spoke about her feelings of anxiety and stupor the night the war broke out.
“I remember that I woke up from weird sounds from outside, as probably everyone did. It was dark, almost night, and I saw that Volodymyr was not by my side,” she said.
“I went to the next room, he was already dressed in a suit, but without a tie. I asked him what was going on, and he said “it has started.” He told me this and left. After that, we didn’t see each other for a long time,” she said.
During the hour-long interview, she said that she hoped that she could return to focus on issues that affect Ukrainian women, such as unequal pay, according to the Washington Post.
“After the victory, we will remember the heroism of our Ukrainian women,” she said.